On Monday evening, Mayor Claudia López officially ended more than five months of quarantine for nine million residents of the Colombian capital, stating emphatically that as a result of lockdowns, Bogotá prevented some 40,000 deaths from coronavirus and the collapse of its hospital system.
“Everyone who required a UCI regardless of their illness received one,” remarked López, adding that all healthcare professionals “carried a heavy burden on their shoulders for months.”
With words of gratitude to the city’s youngsters who “made an enormous sacrifice,” López also recognized that in the “new reality” that comes with post-quarantine, mental health is as important as physical well-being. The city’s highest authority also condemned “irresponsible acts” such as popular protests that put at risk the lives of citizens.
The news that quarantine in the last seven localities of Bogotá will be lifted four days ahead of the August 31 deadline, anticipated President Iván Duque, who during his evening address to the nation titled Prevención y Acción (Prevention and Action) also announced the end of quarantine across the territory on September 1, replacing Obligatory Preventive Isolation with selective isolation for 14 days for infected individuals and their family nucleus.
President Duque also extended the National Health Emergency until November in order to have the regulatory framework to enact exceptional measures during the pandemic in accordance with WHO guidelines.
Both leaders expressed the importance of maintaining strict biosecurity protocols given that coronavirus remains lethal, and as the local and national economy reopens gradually, citizens must take extra care given a very real possibility that in October, the country could face a second wave of infections and deaths. “Entering a new phase has to give hope and illusion to our country that reactivation will be powerful,” said Duque. “The world is moving in this direction and we know the risks. We also know that the step we have to take is crucial.”
President Duque’s macro vision of pandemic management highlighted rising numbers in recovered patients and more than 2.4 million PCR tests processed, contrasting with López’s “new reality” that outlines a city that “works, socializes and studies” based on a 4 day-week running Monday to Thursday for businesses that do not have contact with clients (manufacturing and wholesale), and Thursday to Sunday, for all presential services (hair salons, laundrettes, restaurants). On Thursday, all offices and educational institutions close.
Essential workers who were exempt from the 160 days of quarantine, as well as pharmacies and supermarkets, can operate seven days a week. Construction and home renovations can proceed Monday to Saturday as of 10 am. Pico y cédula remains to restrict access to supermarkets, banks, notaries and all commercial establishments based on the last number of one’s identity card.
The new reality reopens 65 parks and wetlands in Bogotá from 7 am to 2 pm, as well as the city’s favorite Sunday pastime – Ciclovía – with its 550 km of designated bike lanes. On Tuesday, Bogotá registered an additional 2,462 cases of coronavirus, raising the total of infections since the outbreak on March 6 to 195,137.